I was delighted to be asked to speak about the importance of investing in early childhood years today with Ministers James Reilly and Damien English and Cllr Josepha Madigan.
This is an issue of huge importance to me personally as a working Mum , to Bernard as a working Dad and to working parents across the country. Since elected I have listened to and facilitated public meetings with both parents and childcare providers.
We know that the impact of investing in the first 5 years lasts a lifetime. An additional 8 weeks of flexible parental leave, reduced costs through subsidisation of childcare providers, extension of the Home Carers tax credit, smaller classes for junior and senior infants, free dental care for U6’s, 217 new speech and language therapists and 42 more National Educational Psychologists. #earlyyears
Highlights of the Early Years Plan include:
- An additional 8 weeks paid leave by 2021, to be taken in the child’s first year by either parent
- A €2,000 annual subsidy for children aged 9 months to 3 years in childcare facilities
- Free Dental Care for Under 6s
- Smaller class sizes from 27:1 to 18:1
- New afterschool care options in school buildings
- New in-school speech and language service
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dublin North Candidate James Reilly TD, said:
“Since going into Government in 2011, Fine Gael has prioritised children and their welfare. We established a new Child and Family Agency, and introduced child protection legislation, free GP care for under 6s and a second free pre-school year.
“Now, we want to build on this progress. As we keep the recovery going Fine Gael will target investment in the early years, those crucial first five years in a child’s life. Additional parental leave, affordable childcare and smaller classrooms underpin Fine Gael’s long-term economic plan, along with targeted investment.
“We want to give parents more quality time with their children, so we are going to provide an additional eight weeks parental leave, to be taken by either parent in the first year of the child’s life. We also want to make childcare more affordable for working families. We’ll do this by providing a €2,000 annual subsidy for children aged 9 months to 36 months who are attending childcare facilities. We are also committed to free dental care for under 6s and new in-school speech and language services in primary schools to support young children early.
“Fianna Fáil has no policy to secure the future of our children. They fought the introduction of Free GP care for children, yet 225,969 children have been registered by their parents to avail of this service. “Fianna Fáil’s childcare policy is based on tax credits, despite knowing this will just drive up costs for parents.
“By prioritising early investment in children, Ireland will gain talent in the long term. Giving our children the best possible start means they will become more independent, healthier and wealthier in later lives.
“This is why Fine Gael, as the only party with a Long Term Economic Plan to keep the recovery going, has made investing in services one of the essential three steps in that plan.”